About a year ago, I was in our local Safeway, pretty much minding my own business (which means stopping Lola from prodding every chocolate bar that was within her reach at the confectionary display by the till), while the cashier scanned my groceries.
He put through the onions, mushrooms, carrots and spuds, then picked up the minced meat.
“I see you’re having shepherd’s pie for dinner,” he said conversationally, looking pretty pleased with himself.
If you ask me, he was looking way too pleased with himself. Especially considering he was a fully grown man of forty-something with graying hair and a bit of a belly, who despite his age was still working as a cashier in Safeway.
But since I am an open-minded person, and since in the past I too have had to suffer the snobbish attitude of one too many city worker when I worked in a sandwich shop in London and it was assumed (judging by the way people treated me) that I was below average intellectually when in fact I was saving up to travel around Africa for a few months before I started my PhD, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps he too was saving up to travel around the world. Perhaps he too had a PhD or two tucked up his sleeve. Perhaps he was even studying for his PhD right now. Perhaps his research was examining how people were perceived based on their career choice. Perhaps this month he was acting as a cashier in Safeway but next month he would be acting as a policeman, when all along he was a scientist.
“Can I give you a tip on how to spice up your shepherd’s pie?” he smiled smugly, and before I could nod my consent (what choice did I have?), he continued. “Just add a pinch of…”
I smiled politely as I paid for my groceries, then left. Feeling ever so slightly perturbed that this man, who I had never met before, had inspected my groceries so closely that he had figured out what I was making for dinner.